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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  June 2, 2014 10:30am-12:31pm EDT

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claims? >> mr. chairman, the work on the issue in ides, i myself went through the predischarge claim. i retired two years ago, and i used the predischarge claim. i used the bdd. because i filed when i had over, i think i did it at 180 days. and that was a program that was currently being pushed by the va that said if you file this way, your claim will be processed, and you'll receive benefits as soon as you exit the military. maybe some of the issue is that these claims go to certain regional offices, and a lot of members started filing the claims in either winston-salem or utah started seeing the claims, and what we started seeing the claims was that the bdd and quick start claims became a backlog because every service member that was trysting was advised this would be the
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most advantageous way. and by everybody filing, we created a backlog. i believe now that bdd and the quick start claims have come down a bit. we, i mentioned the benefits delivery of discharge which is another initiative that started. basically, you're submitting your claim along with all your medical documentation and asking the va to adjudicate the claim because they have all the information available. and i believe right now these claims are being adjudicated, depending on the region office, between 130 and 135 days. like i said, i deal with the ides, and maybe some of the issues with the ides, too, is all cases go to seattle regional office, all the others go to providence, rhode island. i know right now the issue on that is the seattle regional office, the army -- if you look at the numbers, they have the majority of cases, so maybe this is, i don't know, do they switch them to another office? we've got to look at another system to get these members their ratings a little bit quicker so we can definitely
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process them out. >> thank you. my next question is for mr. jenkins. you note in your written testimony that a predischarge employee's experience include difficulties with communicating with mscs. two-part question. what suggestions do you have to improve communication, and do you believe that greater vso involvement in predischarge claims would help alleviate some of the concerns? >> well, to answer your question, chairman, in time we can have a vso involved, it's going to assist. they have direct contact with the veteran. they're interacting on a regular basis, and sometimes they can even speak for the veteran when it comes to to a claim, which they can speed the process along. as far as communication between mscs and vsrs, training has a lot to do with it. some of the mscs have been hired do not have previous development training, so they have a lack of understanding of the process.
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it all has to do with staffing, training. those are the bottom lines to it all. they have to be trained properly, and they have to understand the process between how it works between the regional office and the ides locations as well. >> thank you. and with that, yield to the ranking member, ms. titus. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i would just say, first, ms. gipson, my colleague, mr. beto, was certainly right. yours is a powerful and eloquent voice for change, and thank you very much for being here. i would just ask you at any point during the process were you asked by anybody or did you take a survey about how it was working, what could have been done better, if you were satisfied? did you feel like anybody was asking for your feedback? >> yes, ma'am, i do. the issue with the survey is you -- i have some familiarity
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with surveys, and when you survey people makes a difference in what their response will be. so, for example, if you survey a service member who has recently entered the ides process and they're within that first 0-day window -- 30-day window, their comment about the va, about the ides system is not going to be negative at all because they've only participated in the process for 30 days. if, however, you survey that same service member, say, for example, within six months of them exiting the service when they've had an opportunity to sort of reflect back upon when or what happened to them, i think that the numbers may look very different. >> uh-huh. >> and so to answer your question more specifically, yes, we were surveyed. but at the time, for example, that i took the survey i was about six months into the process, and that didn't seem
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more daunting to me. had i been surveyed again at month 15, my answers very likely would have changed. >> so the results, you think, are skewed based on when people take the survey and what's happening. >> yes, ma'am. >> i suspect that's true. it's pretty easy to manipulate numbers like that. >> yes, ma'am. >> i would also ask the vsos, starting with mr. avila, if you have ever heard that term, "quick start, slow finish," or "quick start, no finish." have you ever discouraged any soldiers from going through any of these programs as we've heard kind of anecdotally? and then finally, i think mr. valero mentioned this, what specifically can we do to enhance your role to help soldiers before they are discharged like you help them that might facilitate this
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process? >> i have heard of the term the fast start. what i currently do, i deal mainly with the napb. i do assist service members. i know other vsos have representatives at installations. what i am currently advising somebody that's getting out is don't do bdd. i ask them to do fdc. right now that is what's getting the results a little bit quicker. so they wait until they retire, they go through the transition course and gather all the information, and then once you are retired or you can do it before, fill out all your paperwork, and then on your first day of retirement you can go and submit to it the va. it depends on the regional office as well. what can we do? i think taps, there was a focus on taps several years ago to put different resources out this for veterans that are transitioning.
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so for my point on ides, i think we need to do the same part. because, yes, so these soldiers, as you know, they have legal rights. once they get the results, they have so many days to seek legal counsel. they can use the jag officers on an installation. they can use the dsos. the issue is that not a lot of dsos are doing specific ides cases. they're doing your transitional va claim. so i think maybe speaking with dod, and i did have a meeting with dod, brett stephens, who's a director at the ides and trying to see what the american legion can do. we have service officers. can we assist? what can we do to get the word out to these members so they can make the best decisions as they go through the process. >> thank you, congresswoman. yes, we have heard of that term before, quick start, slow finish. we have discouraged some service members from going through bdd or quick start depending on their individual circumstances, and what can we do?
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is vsos used to have broader access, and then all of a sudden with the implementation of, excuse me, with tap gps, it just became more and more marginalized. it's a collaborative effort. i mean, we're all in it together. we understand the active duty component, and we understand the veteran component. and we have transitioned service officers, i like to call them translation service officers because we can translate a lot of what's happening in terms that they can understand. >> thank you, ranking member, for the question. finish i think the numbers on the quick start speak for itself. it's 249 days. on average i think members receive their benefits eight months after they're discharged. so that's ooh d that's definitely not delivery on discharge. we do in regards to quick start, we'll recommend to service members/veterans that they not submit a quick start claim.
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it depends on where they're going home to. if they're going home to st. paul or columbia which regional office operates faster than the others, we will say, no, wait until you get home, and we will send a fully developed claim in. they're going to, say, waco or houston -- which is not well at all -- we will say, no, let's do a quick start now and start the process, because once you go home, it's going to be horrendous. one thing that we recommended in the testimony is to treat quick start claims like you would a fully-developed claim. the only thing different from a fully-developed claim and a bdd or quick start -- well, i should say bdd claim is the dd214. so theoretically, they get to the rating officer fully developed, and you theoretically should be able to rate that day. however, they're kind of pushed to the side and kind of waited on as they work their other cases. so if you treated them as the same process you would an ftc
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claim, you'd likely see a fall in the processing times. but it's also important to recognize that the you shift the resources there -- if you shift the resources there, you're essentially taking resources from elsewhere. but we believe these service members are in need of the benefits the most. they're transitioning their wounded. they still may be looking for a job. so they're going through a lot of transition process, and they really need that income to help them through that process, so i think it's appropriate to requiretize those claims. prioritize those claims. >> well, thank you for your help. thank you, mr. chairman, for the time. >> thank the gentlelady and recognize the gentleman from texas, mr. o'rourke. >> i'd like to note for the record that ms. rubens is still here and was listening to the testimony from veterans and vsos who are working within the system to serve veterans and also would note that ms. halladay and her team from the oig are here to listen, so
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really appreciate their attention and respect to the members who are here giving their testimony. ms. gipson, you came up with a number of really good recommendations for us and vba and dod to follow. one of them was to change a culture that can seem as though it is punishing a service member. i've heard this directly from service members at the wtu, at fort bliss in el paso. we've read of some really egregious cases where it seems that the punishment is punitive, overly punitive if not downright humiliating, and i hope those are the exceptions and not the norm. and it's part of the pressure i feel to get that wait time down which back in february was 185 additional days over the goal down to what ms. rubens has committed to in terms of what the vba can control. can you talk about from your own experiences what you have seen
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or witnessed within that culture and how we might go about changing it? and i'll have one additional question. so if you could answer that within the span of about a minute or two, that would be great. >> yes, sir. it's been my experience that soldiers are often treated with if not open hostility, then at a minimum a sort of dismissive attitude. it's not -- i think that you have to start with the premise that soldiers deserve the wounded warrior programs, and they deserve to have their illnesses and injuries treated. i think if you start there, then that's a great springboard to build, around which to build policies and procedures that will advocate on behalf of the soldier. what i think happens is that there's a sort of consensus that these programs are there simply for soldiers to take advantage of and to get as many benefits as they possibly can before they exit the system, and there's
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reis sentiment that builds up. -- resentment that builds up. i think if there can be policies that can abate that mentality, i think you can go a long way in changing the culture. >> and i should also say that i've had a chance to speak with some of the commanders at the wtu, and, you know, there their perspective they have this obligation and responsibility to maintain discipline and readiness, and there's this understandable tension between people who are on the verge of transitioning out and their commanders who may have them for, you know, in the case of el paso a period approaching 200 days longer than they should have. so it gives us added impetus to try to reform the system, and as you say, reform the culture within it. mr. gehrke, i wanted to follow up on some of the comments that you made and ask you a question that i asked the oig about where we might better commit resources
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and staffing. we heard from mr. jenkins that one potential by-product of brokering is that we have some regional offices looking for work or creating new and different kinds of work that may not be as effective or as efficient. you've heard my concerns about the wait times in the ides process. what are your views on how we could improve staffing levels, resourcing? what are we missing and where are we missing that? >> thank you for the question. i think ms. gipson was right on in saying that there needs to be some sort of staffing reassessment. i mean, we hear in all of these vao ig reports that, one, there's been mismanagement, but, two, it's always coupled with there's a lack of staff. and so i would like to personally know what the formula is for deciding staffing levels, whether they have such a formula, what it consists of and then how often they do those
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staff assessments. and not just for vba, for vha as well and dod as well. because we always hear that there are missing positions, missing ratings officers across the board, and so there is a lack of resources, but it's hard to decide where to put the money and where to allocate those resources if there's not a proper formula for deciding what those staffing levels should be and where it's missing and where it might might be too much. >> as long as vba is able to meet their stated goals for timeliness and accuracy, i'm very happy for them to decide where those resources are placed. when they're unable to, it seems as though they may snead some help from -- may need some help from either oversight bodies or vsos that work with them. i would welcome you to continue to stay in touch with you where you might see deficiencies, where we're not meeting our goals when it comes to accuracy
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and timeliness and where we might recommend additional resources being placed. so appreciate your perspective on this. and i'm -- looks like i'm out of time, but i would like to follow up with you if you have additional comments and with that, mr. chair, i'll yield back. >> want another minute or two? >> well, mr. gehrke, it looked like you were about to say something else, so with the chair's indulgence, would love to get your answer on that. >> i was just going to say on quick start they pointed out that i believe it was san diego or salt lake city that they had requested additional staff. va provided those staff and then that facility went and used staff for other purposes. so we see that quite often where they say that we're going to use all this hundred people for quick start, and they cut them in half and use them for nemur cases or some sort of other cases which show that they may need even more staff than they're asking for or that is being allocated to them. >> thank you. mr. chair?
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>> thank the gentleman. and thank everyone for being with us today. the possible is excused. i appreciate -- the panel is excused. i appreciate the time and attention you spent preparing your remarks. it is obvious that there is still much to be done at ides and as well as the transitioning disability benefits programs. i do not want anyone here to lose sight of these transitioning service members, our newest veterans, the va has more important priorities until 2015. va has always had to maintain multiple priorities, and now through 2015 is no different. i ask unanimous consent that all members have five legislative days to revise and extend remarks and include any extraneous material. hearing no objection, so ordered. thank the members for their attendance today, and the hearing is now adjourned.
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[inaudible conversations] >> and live today at 12:30 eastern time we'll take a look at american nationalism and u.s. foreign policy with michael lind of the new america foundation and center for the national interest. he recently wrote a cover story arguing for a new direction for foreign policy, immigration, trade and military policy. we'll have that discussion live right here on c-span2 at 12:30. and then tonight at 8 other on our companion network, c-span, it's supreme court justice and lifelong baseball fan samuel alito. he'll be joined by columnist
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christine brennan, david brooks and george will, and espn baseball analyst tim kurkjian. here's a preview. [applause] >> i sort of agree with the need to speed it up a bit, but the mitigating factor is the saying which is well known which is that football's an action game and baseball's a drama game, and that a lot of the excitement of baseball is the stuff that happens between the pitches. actually a fantastic job of the cutaway shots, and it's the attention to about what's to happen is more satisfying than what actually does happen. [laughter] and just a final point, maybe even -- that's a comment on my romantic life. no, i'm just kidding. [laughter] i don't know where that came from. [laughter] i just realized i'm on c-span. fantastic. [laughter] >> i think it's a very good idea. chief justice roberts famously
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said a few years ago that umpires, judges are like umpires. i think that's true. so the umpires on the field are like the trial judges. and we know they get things wrong sometimes. so you have to have an appeal to the umpires in new york who review the replay. and the only thing that's wrong with this system is it only has two levels. [laughter] >> justice alito and david brooks, two of the speakers we'll hear from tonight telling stories about baseball and its enduring place in american culture, 8 p.m. eastern time on our companion network, c-span. next, the impact of war on civilians. speakers include sarah short, one of three american hikers who was taken hostage by iran in 2009 and investigative journalist robert dreyfuss. they talk about whether civilian casualties are ever justified, how the civilian presence affects war planning and the lack of accurate data on wartime casualties.
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this was part of the university of colorado's annual world affairs conference in boulder. [inaudible conversations] >> good morning, everyone. >> good morning. >> welcome to -- [inaudible] this is panel 2467, collateral damage, civilians in war. and the panel date april 8, 2014, 12:30 to 1:50 is this panel. i want to thank you so much. my name is jenny, and i'm absolutely honored to be here today. i work for the american red cross here in colorado, and i'm a former student volunteer for the concerns, so honored to be
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back. without further ado, i do want to inform everyone that c-span is filming today, and so our panelists aren't able to stand up because they'll be out of frame. so thank you so much for your patience with that. but let me introduce our esteemed panelists today. before i do that, if everyone could silence any devices or other thosemakers that you have on you, that would be appreciated. so to my left today we have bob dreyfuss. i asked bob kind of where is the most intriguing place that he's ever been, and bob shared that vietnam and iran. and he said that he was just kind of boggled by both of those places. bob, he is a contributing editor at "the nation," and we're honored to have him here. next to bob we have sarah hold win sky. sarah, she just came from the central african republic to boulder, and so that's her most recent, most intriguing place
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that she's been. [laughter] and sarah's executive directer of the center for civilians -- [inaudible] we also have tammy schultz. tammy schultz, local coloradoan. she was a ride supervisor at elitch gardens. >> lead ride supervisor. >> kind of a big deal locally. [laughter] and tammy's the director of national security in joint warfare and the professor of strategic studies at the u.s. marine corps war college. so welcome, tammy. and lastly we have sarah shord who's our second sarah panelist today, and sarah's the author and contributing editor for "the solitary watch," web site, and she's a university, uc berkeley visiting scholar. so welcome, andeáxru)u$out furtr ado, i will give it over to bob. to start, each panelist will have about ten minutes to speak, and after that we'll go right into audience participation and
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questions. again, as a reminder, students we'll invite to come and ask questions first. bob, thanks so much. >> thank you. thanks, everybody, for coming today. the it's a great pleasure to be here. you're especially remarkable to coming to such a topic which is not exactly easy the swallow, i think, for most people. in fact, talk about euphemisms, but the phrase "collateral damage" always sticks in my craw because it really means innocent dead people or dead, innocent people. so let's try not to use that. i am certainly not going to use it in my presentation. this because it immediately becomes very personal for me. i'm going to explain that. ..
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because i said it feels a little too personal some going to speak personally when i talk about this. for me as a said i've never been in combat. i've never been in the armed forces. you know, deliberately so i guess. i mean, i came of age in the 1960s at a time when everything i thought i knew about this country about a
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learned earlier as a teenager and in middle school was approved to meeting to be completely wrong since our country was engaged in a vast criminal enterprise called the war in vietnam. in which we were killing a lot of people for no damn good reason at all. it wasn't explained to me in my civics classes in high school or before that why something like this could happen, and how could our government do something so criminally misguided? so i was involved in college. i went to columbia, was kind of, heartbeat center of the antiwar movement. we shut down the school a couple times which was good for me because i got pass-fail grades those semesters. once was in 1968 coincidentally with the french revolution of
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that spring. the second time was after the invasions, the intervention, or what do they call it, inversion -- incursion into laos was revealed in may and with the killings in can't stay. i was involved in all that. i had no question about what's going to happen to me when i graduated. i was headed to canada. i was going to go into the army, no matter what. not because i didn't want to be killed, although it didn't but because to me this was a criminal war and i was going to be part of it. so it turns out it was the first year of the lottery. i still remember that night incredibly well when my birthday was picked out of the hat, or whatever the used, and i was number 275, and it was pretty widely known they were only going to draft up to 110, so i was out of the picture. but vietnam was a turning point for me.
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the reason i bring it up, it's affected everything that's happened to me for the rest of my life. as you know, something -- i'm going to put it this way. we killed about 2 million people in vietnam for no good reason during those years. i've been to vietnam. i have a daughter who is adopted from vietnam. i've been there as was mentioned, but only the first time in the 1990s when we went to adopt her. video soldiers served there, i could many of them, many, many of them literally went insane. many of them were indeed baby killers. you hear a lot of veterans say they called us baby killers when we came home. i don't know what percentage of them were actually work they become lawyers -- baby killers but quite a number of them were.
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the famous quote, we have to destroy this village in order to save the. it's become kind of a cliché but it was accurate than. a colleague of mine and a person i have written with, nick kearse, has written a brilliant book. i recommend you all write it down and read it. it will change forever the way you think about the event. it's called kill anything that moves. the real american war in vietnam. he went into utah's archives and dug up the true story that meal i was not a one off. but, in fact, there were dozens of scores, hundreds of massacres of civilians deliver killings using civilians as target practice, pushing them out of helicopters, exceeding them in the field for no good reason. by the hundreds and by the thousand to this is what we did. this is what our nation day. turn on going to skip ahead. you think all that's in the past and then all of a sudden we elect an idiot from texas.
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i had a bumper sticker on my car somewhere in texas there's a village missing it's idiot. and he invades iraq. now look, the war in iraq community and i'm really tired of can get being called a mistake or a blunder or something like that. this was a deliberate war of aggression, an illegal one as many people including kofi annan have said. it was another criminal enterprise by the united states. we went to war in an unconscionable manner against a country that didn't attack us. having come to the vietnam experience, like how could this have happened again? how could this possibly be happening again? and if it were me, i find it mind-boggling that people could have served in that army. the honorable thing to do was to
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quit, get out of the army, you go to jail if that's what it takes, to be an objector. if you're serving in the state department or the pentagon or the cia, and to talk to people of been in all of those agencies at the time. the thing to do was to quit. you cannot be part of a criminal enterprisenterpris e and say i'm staying to fight this from within. so what happened in iraq and more, hundreds of thousands of people died would be alive today if it weren't for what the united states did. there's lot of dead innocent civilians all around the world in many, many conflict. the united states is hardly responsible for all of them, not even most of them, but as an american citizen this is why a look at, who we are responsible for. last year nick turse, the person i wrote with, and i prepared a future for the "nation" magazine. it was a special cover package
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called americans afghan victims. we looked at the course of the 13 year war in afghanistan, and tried to estimate or find out who could estimate how many civilians died there. not just of course from the united states but most of them in fact from taliban atrocities and suicide bombings and things, but quite a number, quite a number from american actions. we didn't get a lot of cooperation from the military in looking into this. they didn't respond in a friend and mentor to our foyer, freedom of information act request, and they didn't exactly ask us to come in bed, as the term of art, with the units that track civilian casualties or monitor these kinds of things or worry about strategy and policy. they did one is anywhere near the. they said no, you can't come, no. so we did a piece, why were they
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so touching about it? remember another former colleague of mine, michael hastings, who wrote for rolling stone to i wrote for rolling stone for many years, did the piece that got stanley mcchrystal from the general who was commander of the armed forces there, fired because of his and his stats kind of raucous anti-white house carousing and badmouthing of the president and the vice president and all of that. obama as you know that they fired him for this insubordination. michael by the way died last year in a car crash, a horrible loss for journalism and for people who care about dead innocent civilians in various parts of the world. so i can talk about the afghanistan work that we did and the conclusions that we came to, but suffice it to say that the afghanistan government which is by and large a joke didn't do any counting at all. the ngo's didn't have the
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resources to even begin the process. the united nations tried to do the best and really didn't succeed because, although i guess they came the closest, because of limitations that they faced. and the u.s. military, which started out, as tommy for exploded on afghanistan saying we don't do body counts. eventually moseyed around to the idea of maybe we should start tracking this because it works against our counterinsurgency efforts. we are creating a lot of terrorists and all of that. so they tried, but again that was flawed process as well. we did create an electronic database which you can access at the nation website. showing the number of incidents, there were 458 of them, in which american troops were involved in civilian deaths. not taliban deaths but killing
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civilians with 6481 people dead, up to that many. it's a range actually. as a result of these incidents. so we can talk in the q&a about that but i'm going to conclude -- my time is up -- by noting that we are teeter tottering on the brink of another one of these things with syria, there's an article in "the wall street journal" today that says that there's another battle inside the white house and in the administration with secretary of state kerry and samantha power, the ambassador to the united nations, both arguing for an escalation of the war by the united states, involving well, what? training, support, arming more rebels, perhaps most racetracks and so forth. where as, guess who, the military in the form of general dempsey, the chairman of the
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joint chiefs and other people and the pentagon are saying this is a really dumb idea. as far as we know obama thinks it's a dumb idea. he's been resisting this since 2012. when hillary clinton was pushing him to get more deeply involved in syria. so i guess my conclusion is, we didn't learn from vietnam but we didn't learn from iraq. and we could be bumbling into another one or two by the way, or more. iran is another issue so i'm going to close there and pass it on and i hope there's some questions about all this stuff. thanks. >> thank you, bob. [applause] >> now we have sarah wolensky spain so i am sarah, executive director, executive director of center for civilians in conflict, and my last eight years has been intensely focused on this issue of quote unquote collateral damage.
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and because of that it actually makes it hard to talk to you because i have so much to talk to you. i have so much that i want to rely. let me just start out with a quick overview of what collateral damage actually means. for the military, the u.s. military in vietnam coined this term. it means incidental civilian harm. what does that mean? it basically means lawful civilian harm. i say that because there actually is a legal regime that governs the killing, injuring a civilians in armed conflict. so after the horrors of world war ii, the international community, based on some flaws that proof existed, treated the geneva convention and the additional protocols. so these roles or framework that governs armed conflicts say a number of things about detainees, prisoners of war. but it also says that you have
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to distinguish between civilian and combatant, somebody who's military, part of the military force and the civilian is not participating in the conflict. you have to be proportionate when you are targeting. so if bob is a weapons cache and i am a house filled with maybe two or three children, a military can decide that actually that weapons cache is so important to the military objectives that they can bomb it until the children inside of my house. and in many circumstances that would be considered lawful. i did not create these rules. so that is what is meant by collateral damage. death, injuries, property damage. the term civilian does not mean innocent. innocent is not a word that is a legal term or something that makes much sense in armed conflicts. because actually i civilian can
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be a ballet dancer or a serial killer. as long as that person is not actually purchase getting into conflict they're supposed to be protecting. even if they are a horrible, awful, mean person. so i should say that in the beginning. i think what i want to do is step outside of my roll and hopefully you understand that my entire career has been devoted to minimizing as much as possible civilian harm in conflict. but i do want to use this opportunity to step outside of my roll and step outside of my daily work to post some really difficult, ethical questions with you. so the first of three is, what is collateral damage actually stop? so you have death, injuries, property damage. this is how the united states and many other nations categorize harm to civilians. what about psychological trauma?
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wanteone of the kids in pakistao hide under the beds, what their bed, won't go to school because of the drones? what about environmental damage in iraq because of white phosphorus or in other places? what about communities placement? i just got back from central african republic and people have lost their homes. as soon as they have elections, those conflict games -- into going to be cemented. what about those people? so because generation after generation after generation, all of that could be considered collateral damage but when you think about how to minimize it, where do you stop? what is the definition? the second question, how much of it should actually be mitigated? i think everyone in this room would say, all of it. to bob's point, we shouldn't have worn. -- have war. but if you were to say, we are
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going to make collateral damage illegal, you wouldn't be able to have war. if you can't have war, what happens? what happens to states? how do they didn't engage in diplomacy? if you don't have any, if you cannot legally of military action on the table, what does that do to your diplomacy? i'm not saying it makes it better or worse. i'm asking a legitimate question, how does that change our international structure? bringing up the city in conflict, how do we say we are certainly not going to argue with weapons, assad, because we can't because we couldn't cause any silly norm because that's illegal. what does that do to negotiations? what does that due to the peace process? i think it's an interesting question. but those come up on in this room, but for those who believe that truman was right in dropping the bomb because it
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stopped japan in its tracks, how does that make sense if you're not able to use military force and cause civilian harm? these are real questions that policymakers grapple with. and isaf commander national forces in afghanistan, actually created in 2011, 2012 a zero-tolerance policy for civilian harm. we will not cause one civilian casualty. they had been beat down so much by international pressures to not cause civilian harm your so i can sort appreciate that from a moral ethical standpoint. i actually think it's detrimental. because the decision that going to cause any civilian harm, ever, then the population lives that the they're protected and they're not. military actions will always cause civilian harm. that is the reality.
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subpopulations stop protecting themselves. they stop thinking that mean they need to do things to avoid what's happening on the ground in the country, and i think bigger picture and more data middle, it makes it easier for us to say we would use military force. because we're not going to cause civilian harm so it's okay, don't worry. we will use our military anywhere in the world, but again it's not the reality. there will be civilian harm, and that should be part of what we think about when you think about are we going to use military force. it should be a question and debate. and the third question i'm going to ask is when is it better to have collateral damage and to have massive civilian death? this is something i struggle with all the time and it's a very, very hard question to you don't have the right answer. but let me tell you about a philosophy or actually an ethical question, and academic many decades ago.
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it's called the bridge. some of you may know about this. you have to circumstances. the first is a trolley is coming down the tracks and it is forked angel five civilians who are tied up on this track over here and the trolley is going to kill them. you have one civilian died over here on the right and you're standing at the lover and you can pull it so that goes and kills one civilian instead of five. what do you do? a lot of catholic doctrine others that you don't get involved. you let fate happen. a lot of other doctrines out of that tells you what to do from a moral standpoint. so what do you do? then the bridge. you on a footbridge over another trolley coming down the tracks and there are five civilians who are going to be killed. they are tied to. you were standing next to an extraordinarily fat, obese men. you could push him over and stop the trolley.
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this -- funny. but it actually -- [inaudible] spring has nothing to do with governor christie by the way. [laughter] >> hey, now, he's working on it. >> this creates a much more difficult dilemma i think all of you would agree. do you purposefully put somebody in the way so that other people will not get killed? and this i think, if you think about these two circumstances, i think everyone is saying no, i would not pull the. and the second -- yes, yes, it would pull it. sorry. i would pull a big because fired sort of to say that the band of the one. in the other when you're actively pushing someone over. you're actively killing them. if you think about syria, legitimate question. two years ago if we had had
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airstrikes, caused civilian harm, caused collateral damage, put our forces in harm's way, could we have stopped the mass atrocities that happened afterwards? in terms of the calculus that you personal use, what is better and how do you explain that to yourself? and that is also what policymakers are trying to figure out. so i think this issue of collateral damage is much, much more complicated and has a lot of dilemmas and challenges to it. thank you very much. [applause] >> thank you, sir. now we have tammy schultz. >> i'm actually going to start my personal think i don't represent the u.s. government, the u.s. military but i think that will be somewhat clear. i'm also going to say, i just met sarah and bob going. what you just heard from sarah,
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sarah is the minster, a trailblazer. we met at the truman national security project. i would encourage you to look at the. it is basically the progressive answer to heritage that trains young people in national city to issues. we came up with the idea of doing some awards come to one of the awards we came up with was a lifetime achievement award to basically doing progressive values and national security. we didn't think we would feel that for a while. ciro won that award out like the age of what, 12? so there's something called the humble bragg, i'm so humbled to be on this panel but i truly and. and an officer saw just try to add a couple things. i'm going to first just an assumption that have which is potentially different from bob's. my assumption is that sometimes war is necessary. not preferable mind you, but necessary. there's a classic example of stopping hitler and other couples but i think we should
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get involved in the 1994 rwanda genocide that i think we could have done so and stopped more harmed. despite what i'm about to say, my remarks, i'm not a warmonger i actually would to estes park for the silent retreat and asked him the questions. in a nonviolent circle come and to think i told this story last year, you know, chamberlain could listen to hitler all he wanted, and, frankly, the design was so going to be the same. the harmless to going to be the same. so listening isn't enough. is there every time when a nonviolent philosophy could, in fact, promote violence to stop further violence? had his answer was essentially yes, but you have to be very careful about how you do. he says if a man has a gun in a village in some rodders compare to kill the entire village and he stands on his high moral perch and basically says i'm not going to get involved because a nonviolent and the village is slaughtered, he's actually committed violence by not
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committing the violence. so these problems are not black and white. they are very gray. so i'm going to basically just throw out three things. in terms of civilians in conflict. one, i think we're going to see a lot more of it. number two, civilians sometimes are the target in war, and war is horrible. the third, this is i just added because of listening to bob, soldiers should not choose which war they participate in. that's a slippery slope to let me start with the first. i think we'll see more civilians at risk simply because of the numbers in terms of population and where the population resides. so i would highly recommend to you the book out of the mountains by david kilcullen which basically looks at the future operating and private. he looks at a few trends that are, few of which are important for civilians in conflict. urbanization of population growth. population growth, we're going to add two to 3 billion people between now and 2050. i could run through all the
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numbers but essentially the aggregate number is growing in addition to the rate of population growth. they will simply be more civilians out there. the second is a trend in terms of urbanization, is that there's going to be more -- that would become very problematic. at the beginning of the industrial revolution there was only about two to 3% of the population in the world that lives in the city of a million or more. now that number is above 50%, and by 2050 it would be between 60 and 70%. this is exacerbated by the fact, surrogate example of you with a weapons cache, right? she's a nice little house with her children in a. i like how you do that. military targets have been put closer throughout the cold war to essentially civilian targets. very deliberately in fact to essentially get this idea of mad, mutually assured destruction.
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said the idea being that if the soviet union or the united states were to launch the weapons it would not just be a military targets. you would essentially destroy entire populations. so that's been going on for 60 years. plus this population growth, plus organization means there's just necessary going to be more civilians around. and secondary i want to address is a question that senator raised in terms of how much civilian casualties should be minimized? she jokes that neither myself nor colonel ike wilson can get to talk without the mentioning this. this is my first so after that i will stop. a military there is essentially came up with the art of war, and his basic theory was that war cannot be divorced him politics and policy. he has another idea in there called the center of gravity. the center of gravity basically means you find out what is really important to your enemy and you destroy it.
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you rip their heart out. because that's going to stop the war. so the center of gravity could be an industrial base, it could be military bases, it could be the population. and, indeed, and to all the wars, the laws of war that they're so adequately spoke about, and many times there was the population, that we went after and, frankly, the axis went after as well. let's use the example of the iraq war. i'm with bob on this. i think the iraq war was a mistake. in fact, it's what made me switch from being a rabid independent a rabid democrat. that an gay marriage issue. yeah, i play softball. [laughter] assume you're going to do the iraq conflict, recall what george w. bush said the night before we attacked. this is not an attack on the iraqi population. this is not an attack even on the iraqi forces. it's an attack against saddam
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and his family. that's very much changes the paradigm in terms of what you're trying to achieve in that war. so what did we do? we did a thunder run essential to we left weapons cache as. we didn't stabilize populations the way we did in world war ii. so it's very much altered the way that we fought that war. so some would say by the time baghdad supposedly fell, we hadn't indeed conquered iraq at all. indeed we had just taken a city. we mistook the center of gravity for baghdad and saddam instead of potentially offer the iraqi people and iraqi forces. some researchers suggest the most successful occupations occur after high civilian deaths during the conflict were you utterly crush the population. you can look at the book, occupational hazard by david edelstein. he basically looks at all occupations for like the last
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few hundred years and that's one of the disturbing trends that defines. war is awful, so nothing in my comments said that you should suggest we should just go bomb and take over and kill a lot of civilians. but i am saying that, again this comes, mistakes to come from china's are the very worst. like you think you're being kind but, in fact, you're a long getting a long suffering in terms of the war. so what if we choose the center we're gone slower, stabilize the weapon caches and the population to come we talk of the population and military. would we've killed less than 122384, to one and 35,990 civilians that would ultimately killed? this is the trolley example essentially. we will never know. that's a hindsight question that
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we have no interest. let me move on to the third just for purposes of time. so bob suggested those and osha should have quit their criminal enterprise instead of essentially but has been in the iraq war. i'm in the camp that i don't think the military should choose which wars they pick. that's not their job. that's the civilians job in terms of picking the wars. and guess what? moreover, it's our job as the electorate. president george w. bush was reelected, people, after the iraq war. that's not the soldiers fault. that's our fault. and so let's assume, just for a moment, the most of you in here are democrats. we're in the republic of boulder. i'm a colorado native. i love boulder. do we want the military to be able to say no, i'm not going to go stop the 1994 genocide? for you.
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i don't think that's our job. i don't think the military should think like that. that's an incredibly slippery slope in terms of military relations because they will start picking up operation. they can start picking leaders. we have a history of the civilians being in control of the military or very good reasons. so with that i will leave and look forward to questions and comments. [applause] >> thank you, tammy. now we have sarah shourd. >> hey, everyone. i'm going to start with, from the personal angle as well. in 2008 i decided to move to the middle east, and that decision was born out of years of experience and activism. i was in college at uc berkeley in 2001 when 9/11 happened, and i was very opposed from the get go to the knee-jerk, what i considered response of attacking
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afghanistan and then iraq. i joined the college antiwar movement, and because it's the only thing you can do, we took to the streets. after the initial couple of years of large-scale protest i continue to direct action against the war, and a group of us in oakland, california, were i still lived shutdown the port of oakland for 48 hours because they're shipping arms to iraq and afghanistan. we also went way shut down the city of san francisco for a whole day. so it was exciting to be a young outraged person that had some sort of way to funnel anger, my frustration and my confusion. but as the years went on, i started international solidarity work. it still nagged at me that if you like us never really able to have a real impact, and that the wars dragged on and on and on. so in 2008 i decided to move to
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the middle east, and i found a program in this damascus, syria, called the iraqi student project. i need over a million iraqis were in syria as refugees. it's one of the only path to things that the assad regime did is open its door to iraqi refugees. but they were barred from higher education. so a lot of young people that were in college at the time of the u.s.-led war in iraq, their colleges were shut down. they were destroyed and they fled to syria and couldn't continue their education. so our program helped get a lot of these young people scholarships so they could continue their higher education in the u.s. and abroad. with the goal that they could eventually turn to the country and to iraq and help rebuild it. over 5 50 of my students from te year that i lived in damascus are in college in the u.s. still, and, unfortunately, they still don't feel that it's safe
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enough for them to return to iraq. so damascus other time of them was a bit of a blister on one of the best years in my life there. i was fluent in arabic because i study for some years leading up to my decision to move to the middle east. i'm starting to work as a journalist, and, of course, teaching. i live in a refugee camp and i saw collateral damage common you know, on a daily basis. with my own eyes. it was quite incredible because they can we live in is now hell on earth. a lot of policy and veggies and assad never allowed palestinian, syrians citizenship or even if you were born as a palestinian in syria you still considered a refugee. they opened their homes to iraqi refugees. it would be three family sometimes in one home, and it was a beautiful thing to witness, people taking care of each other and to play a small
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role in that. in 2009, my life changed forever, and in a sense i myself got a taste of what it's like to be caught in the crossfire's of really a low intensity war between governments. you may know a little bit about my story. we decided to go to northern iraq, iraq, kurdistan for vacation. i had a week off for work. if you live in syria, going to northern iraq make sense. it's almost its own country within iraq. it has its own orders. has its own language and effect no americans have been killed or captured there in recent decades. so i'm and adventures person that is a relatively safe place to travel. so we went to northern iraq and visited castles and traveled around for a few days, and then we went to a waterfall that was recommended to us, and to hundreds of families at this tour site.
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iraq was named, northern iraq was named one of the top 41 travel destinations by "the new york times" in 2011. hundreds of people there, mostly kurdish, and join the waterfall. we stay there that night and the next morning we went for a hike, and we later became known as the three american hikers. we went across the board, an unmarked border and i was held in incommunicado arbitrary detention in solitary confinement for 410 days by the iranian government. so i went from trying to play a very small role in lessening collateral damage to come in my own way, being a regular human being caught in the crossfire of decades of animosity between two governments, the iranian government and the u.s. government. after 410 days i was suddenly released before my now husband and a friend, and put into the
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center of the campaign for the freedom. i met with president ahmadinejad. i met with president obama, and right away i was really frustrated by the intransigence on both sides, unwillingness to change the relationship of hostilities, decade-long hostility that led to my prison and is led to so much suffering on both sides. so it was my job to sort of -- i was working closely, it was my job to try to get the u.s. government to give some kind of positive gesture in return for my release so that my friend and husband would in return be released. and everything that i brought up was a no starter, from everything that we had direct information from the iranian government that small gestures like releasing a few iranian students that it overstated their visas in the u.s. and were being detained would have been a
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guarantee for the release of my friends. another guarantee would've been a letter from president obama to president ahmadinejad, just general platitudes and i hope that our countries, the relationship will improve in the future and there will be more peace and yada, yada. that was a nonstarter. so i realized that my government was completely unwilling to change this relationship. and it started because i was caught in that crossfire and i saw the toll it takes on me that my loved ones were still in danger and the families were in the middle of this but it started to a dog on me just how much pain and suffering, in a real sense, and ha has been somewhat abstract before, devon not as intimate as this. and its interest to me to be on a panel like this because i've had, now the place i lived in
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syria is, we'll never ever be what it was again, and i've had friends that have died that i knew in syria. and in a sense, you know, i feel like i haven't even had a taste of what people experienced. and i guess, just to bring it back around to where i started, and also some of the really key things that some of the other panelists have brought up, i think that with our aggressive foreign policy, no matter what there's going to be retaliation. and i considered it my imprisonment to be a very small consequence, a small example of the way that people will suffer from the policies of aggression. and innocent people will continue to suffer, and what i experienced more than anything on a personal anecdote is being
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in prison with other political prisoners, the people that were on the front lines fighting for freedom and democracy in iran, they in no way blamed me for the policies of my government. the other women in prison would joke that they love me down the hallway. they would push past the guards and throw their arms around me, saying michael jackson, you are not alone down the hallway. [laughter] there was a recent gallup poll that actually said that americans no longer see iran as their number one enemy. that's shifted in the last few years. and, of course, iranians are actually some of the most pro-american peoples in the middle east. when you're caught in the middle of this kind of animosity come it's so obvious that it doesn't serve the people. and it actually came to light that our imprisonment, negotiate by the aum on the government come in a very small way paved the road for the historic
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nuclear deal that was still temporary that happened last fall. so american officials, high level officials and run it official would meet face-to-face to discuss our case, but after we were released the omani envoy to negotiate are released and paid our bill arranged for a meeting on omani soil of high level american and a run at officials, that was the first meeting like this in decades. and that paved the way for progress with the nuclear deal. and it's something that i spent time contemplating, and what you brought up about the trolley, that kind of utilitarianism is indeed my suffering, but something of my family and my loved ones led to easing sanctions against independent iranians and really, sanctions hurt people more than anyone. i don't believe that sanctions led to this late warming of
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relations between our government and iran that we are seeing right now. i believe that it was there many people have been fighting for this for decades and putting pressure on their government. when you talk about the greater good and sacrificing a few for the many, i think it's very dangerous because as much as it makes sense, the utilitarian approach to suffering, who's making this decision and why? and for my own expense our government could have taken steps, there are so many missed opportunities over the decades do ease the low intensity war that has been between, been waged between them and giving government many, many times. i just think we need to look very skeptically at the motivation our government has for making these calls. [applause]
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>> sera, thank you so much. now we're going to open the session to the audience, and so we've two microphones at the front of the room. please, students first. we ask that you come forward first and then committee members are welcome to come up if there are no students in line. we will just remind everyone to please ask questions and speak clearly in the microphone for the panelists. thank you. our first question right here. >> looking for students. >> go ahead. >> listening to the discussions of collateral damage made me think of the book which title i can't remember published two or three years ago, in which she makes a very convincing statistically valid case that over the last 10,000 years,
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normalizing for population, humanity is becoming less violent, and that even includes stalin and hitler and the holocaust and everything. and the my lai. would anyone comment on that? >> yes, i will. actually i'm so glad you brought that up. first of all, let me say nobody knows how many civilians have been killed in wars ever. ever. nobody tracked it. bob litt into this and militaries don't track their own civilian casualties, ngos don't do it. i mean, and so we actually don't know precisely, but this is a very good point, because sony people tried to get attention to conflicts and wars by saying that now more than ever civilians are being harmed. civilians are being increasingly hard. i disagree with that. i do. over the long view of history if you look back at the romans and
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athens, i mean, consider all of the civilian harm that happen. yes, you can take it in the past 100 years there's been horrible, horrible civilian wars. but if you take out the world wars i don't actually know that that's true, and i'm not sure that it's true that the increasingly it's hard to tell between civilians and combatants. i mean, i was just reading the book about jesus of nazareth, i can't remember who wrote it. anyway, fantastic book, right? think about of that time where all of a sudden civilians who were priests, rabbis so doing take up arms and they are not wearing uniforms and you can't help -- this has happened throughout history. and again i'm just not sure that we're able to actually document or take a step back enough to say, oh, it's getting worse. all, it's getting better. i think people use it and they
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politically manipulated for whatever they want to do. that is not to say that we should not be paying attention to minimizing civilian harm as much as we possibly can. the fact that 100 civilians are being harmed instead of 1000, that is not the way to make decisions. it's that every single one of those people is alive, is a family, has ramification. >> i teach at the conflict and civil wars at georgetown. one of the things i signed is called the human security report, that would also confirm that thesis, that if you look at these are long-term history, civil and casually are going down but i would echo what sarah said, one is too many. spent i'm not sure i agree by the way, but i haven't studied it so what do i know? i will say that if the romans had killed every person in europe and north africa, 2000 years ago, they wouldn't have killed three many people compared to the 60-1 million people who died in would want
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to. >> that number is not speeded i will buy that but everett is we're talking every death matters, 6109 deaths matter one hell of a lot. and so i don't know. i'm not sure what point we can make whether it's getting more or less percentage. the fact is we as america has to decide how we want our government to behave. and if you want the united states, which is a declining power, and will be for the next century in every measure other than military most likely, do we want the united states can maintain its hegemony, its exceptionalism by exercising its military force? or do we need to step back? was our solution in syria? i'll tell you what the solution is. we surrender. assad has one of that war. it's over. we can escalate it. we can aid the rebels. would end all kinds of things to
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prolong it. that war is over. so what accomplishment do we make? and lest we are planning to invade syria and occupied it into another iraq, it's over. >> can i -- spent really quick unseeded. this would be like a 10 -- and the winner of opportunity was very different from when the attack helicopters started going into civilian protests and getting down civilians between now. the opposition looks different. it's more fractured. is more al-qaeda, more extremes. i think we had more of an opportunity and they wanted to do something as sarah sort of suggested much early on in the conflict. >> i think one notable change in the way that war is waged in the arc of history is that you use build a wage a war that has had so few civilian casualties on the aggressive, beside the aggressive. so in the past to start a war
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with another nation that you would have a tremendous amount of casualties and the fact that war has become such a precise and detached kind of violence is i think remarkable and frightening shift. >> now we'll take a question from the side of the room. >> yes. it's been quite a few years since i read the arms and demand, and i was recently struck by the fact that the nra was able to block a very good nomination for surgeon general. and in my mind, the nra, they kind of fly under the flagship of the second amendment, but they are basically a propaganda arm for the arms industries. >> your question? >> and the question is, no one seems to talk about how much american industry is involved through saudi arabia into the
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conflict in the middle east, and if anyone has any answers on that. >> i'll just do on the nra, you talk about that the u.s. marine corps college and one of the things i stress is i think you can't be a strict reader i've got to shame and leave out the part in our t.a.p. a well-regulated militia, right? so that people are selectively reading the second amendment. so absolutely agree with you that it can and should be regulated. the founders intended that come and the arms industry, and on thursday military and thus a complex and i think that israel. it's increasing and, frankly, the money, like i mentioned with a supreme court decision in terms of going into politics is going to get even more extreme. that includes money from the arms industry, so i think it's going to be an increasing problem. >> great. next question right here. >> i think about the venture
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complaining about is the concept of limited wars and objection was war. a war without objective. vietnam was a war where we kept them back from coming in and attack us but we couldn't do anything else so we just bombed everything. >> your question? >> well, i guess that's it. >> i want to see real quick, one without a political object it is just utter violence. it's not war. it's like a mass murderer. i mean, that's just my comment on it. >> i was just a curious, i believed him he mentioned -- tammy mentioned -- sorry. as i get older my mind goes. [laughter] i think she mentioned occupation, right? and the ability to create an occupation or when an occupation, it goes up as more civilians are killed.
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anyways, i was curious, any modern times is it possible to have an occupation? i don't think there's an occupation that has been within the last 100 years. >> are you a student here by chance? >> i have a political science degree spent out senator i was just wondering because i have a prize for the first student who asks a question. here you go. [inaudible] >> there you go. so there's a really interesting story about iraq that when general wallace was a commander of the third corps and when they took down baghdad, a fantastic washington report -- post photos with them and essentially said, using all the looting, general wallace goes, it never occurred to me that it would be my job to give back those chairs, the electrical stuff, like all of that. they thought it was just looting. what's interesting answer could probably speak more to this,
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there are specific laws that come with occupation. you have to provide for the population, and secretary rumsfeld made a very deliberate political calculation that we would not occupy iraq, that it would look like afghanistan. and because of that there was no declaration of martial law. but as general wallace if he would've declared beckham he said he didn't know that was a policy decision to nobody in washington has been able to answer that question for me. and that has huge repercussions in terms of how civilians are treated after a conflict. >> great. >> yes. i've heard of dallas say that -- analysts say that civilian casualties throughout the history of war, and i don't doubt that, but the geneva convention, there's a more recent development. i'm just wondering, wasn't a significant enough that u.s. policy needs to consider that an account for that? and i'm curious, i understand
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that states involving complex don't have much interest in tracking civil and casualties, but is it practical for an ngo to do that? if they take that task on? and then lastly, i've heard the state department has questioned whether some of the drone policy might be covered up to and that it motivates more people to join the opposition. and it just strikes me that the moral cost, you know, the conflict in vietnam, winning hearts and minds, i don't hear much discussion of and am wondering is that obsolete? >> all right. you blew my mind with like five questions. okay, here we go. first, the geneva convention, yes, world war ii, but all of these rules and laws actually existed in some primordial form before the. so 1906 with the hague, there
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were a lot of things and then going back further and further and further, you get into religious doctrine everything religion in the world at least that i know of has protection of civilians, mostly women, children, elderly, disabled, that kind of thing. so it all comes from a place and every single culture that i've studied as this, and the they we sort of indoctrinated into the geneva convention. and yes the actor did make a big difference in how the u.s. military goes about its operations. they carry the geneva convention with it. there in the code of conduct. there in the rules of engagement, actual cards that i put into the uniforms and a lot of militaries do this and ask a goes to your last question which is hearts and minds. so the reason why militaries want to, in many cases, protect civilians or avoid causing civilian harm is because of needing to garner that local
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support in order to do what they have to do, or because they don't want international condemnation, or because they need to maintain bilateral relationships with the country that they are with or with their donors. there are a lot of reasons for militaries to avoid harming civilians, aside from the thing that we all believe, which is you shouldn't kill them. in terms of tracking, there's also a strategic interest from the carries to track civilian casualties, and i actually think that it needs to be twofold. it can't just be ngos. because militaries, i believe that ngos and civil society and the u.n. should certain be tracking civilian harm, but that's got to be matched by militaries at doing it themselves. here's why. even if we never know what their data says, even if it's kept confidential, which it probably will be, if you are an armed force, you need to know what your impact is on the
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population, including for hearts and minds come occluding to know where are the injuries happen, including to know over time without analysis looks like, and oh, we've got a lot of selling casual is at checkpoints. what's happening? how do we stop that? in order to improve operations, you need to know what you have done out in the committee. so that's something we're trying to get african force and a lot of other militaries to do. >> to add to that, i talked about destroying centers of gravity. i also think instability operations are sort of the aftermath, need to build centers of gravity because you'll be taking those out. so whether it's civil society, rule of law, governance, security from all of the rest of it you should be building potential and all of that up afterwards, assuming you take on the occupier role. >> yeah but let's get back to my point. let's no not take on anymore ocy rows. roles.
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i cannot conceive, i really cannot conceive of any situation around the globe right now where the united states has to start thinking and planning about occupying anybody. let me finish. let me finish. we do not need to go to war in this country. in fact, we should do the opposite. and i'm hoping, and i'm inspired by stairs comments here that people will and do in fact take direct action. let's talk to people going in to enlist saying don't do this with your life. let's get involved in lobbying to undermine the military-industrial complex and cut the defense budget. let's support people who want peace in this country who don't want the united states to go around occupying other nations because we need the resources or because we don't like the guy who runs it, or because we are concerned about human rights situations in that country, or something else. i'm not talking about vast
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genocide like rwanda, okay? these are outlier cases that are so extreme comment by the way to our plenty of situations like that. but if you want to talk about syria, i could give you and extended dissertation on the unbelievable blunders that obama has made in regard to syria starting from the beginning of that revolt, especially when he got up on the world stage and said to the syrian rebels, go for it, boys, because it's time for assad to step down. in and what army, right? and drawn red lines on syria like this is some sort of i don't know, monopoly board or something like the. this is none of our business. and that war would've ended very quickly within assad victory for years ago because none of those people could have stood up to the onslaught of disguised forces. do i support that? know, but look at egypt. now we have the guys we supposedly like you were gunning down their people by the
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hundreds, and is anybody calling for airstrikes against the egyptian armed forces? i haven't heard about it. so before we start talking a intervening early in conflicts with our military, let's stop thinking about intervening any damn place, okay, and let's start working for peace and on the money the military-industrial complex and doing what we can to get this country out of the war business. [applause] >> oh, and by the way, my other comment is, i'm not saying that generals have to revolt against civilian control of the army. it's the right of any soldier as a citizen of america to say i'm not going to fight in this war. that's what a con changes objective is to that's what a politically aware person does. someone else will replace it him, i guess, if he doesn't want to fight in it. but god loves the people who are willing to stand up and say i'm
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not going to go fight in iraq. and if more people had done that, maybe less people would have died in the conflict. .. >> you a student here? >> no. >> okay. >> we don't have anymore t-shirts -- >> you a student in general? >> yes. [laughter]
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>> there you go. i went to regis university, so you get a little prize for asking a question too. [laughter] >> and you're wearing camouflage, too, i can't even see you. [laughter] >> okay. so, yes, thank you for that question. there are things that militaries can do to limit collateral damage. you could not go into conflict -- [laughter] that was a shout out to you, bob. >> thank you. >> when militaries actually do go into conflict, there's things that they can do before, during and after, and i'll make this brief although it is what i have spent the last eight years doing -- >> and unbelievably well, by the way. unbelievable work. >> thanks. so before it's all about war planning. when rumsfeld went into iraq, brought the united states into iraq, there was no planning for limiting collateral damage aside from let's do this at night so people are not out, etc. but there was no planning for
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what are we actually going to do if we harm civilians. what about if this goes on longer than we thought it was going to? so a lot of this has to do with thinking about it before the first shot is ever fired, and you can minimize so much civilian harm -- >> i can just jump in really quick, sarah? i was in a room with a bunch of neo-con cans, there was a vote should we attack iraq. myself and three other people voted no, the rest of the people answered yes. we were thereafter not invited back. moreover, even if it went into the city, nobody would be around to watch it because we had learned the lesson from vietnam. needless to say, we sort of -- the georgetown squish took on that argument. >> so if you're not prepared, you can have what we had this iraq where many, many, many people get killed and injured. during actual combat operations, 9r&j all actually about what the
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commander tells his or her forces. so, yes, you can have good rules, you can have good guidelines, but i have seen commanders who have said you will not cause civilian harm. this is going to damage our mission, etc., etc. and if they create that environment, then their soldiers are very good, actually, about not creating civilian harm. if they say, hey, it's a free-for-all, you know? these are our enemies, everyone here is an enemy, then you get what you got in vietnam which is kill anything that moves. and then after civilian harm is caused, you need to go back and actually do something. under the laws of war, if my kids are killed in the house because we were pomming bob's -- bombing bob's weapons cache, the military has no obligation to come back and pay compensation, apologize, investigate, nothing. this is sort of a missing law of war. so what we're trying to do is actually get them to come back and dignify civilian losses. and again, if you're not tracking and you don't know how many civilians were kill inside
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any particular conflict, how can you do that? >> we'll go to the student here who's waiting and then we have another student here. >> my question, why does america or the usa care about the civilians in the war and just, doesn't just stay away like other countries? just to be honest, like, in the middle east, like i'm from the middle east, and the view of the people that the usa is the problem. just to be honest how the people think. and if they just stay away, it's going to be, like, not more complicated and just -- that what i think. and -- >> good question. >> yeah. thanks. >> yeah. yes, thank you for the question. well, i'll, i have to say that the only time in my life that i've actually been conflicted about what side i was on with the u.s.-led attack on a country is with syria. because i've lived in that
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country and because several of my friends have been killed in the conflict. my best friend, who's still alive and he's now in jordan as a refugee, and i talk to him almost every day, he wasn't even certain. because at a certain -- he's a palestinian young man, very critical of u.s. policy. at a certain point, he said if no one will come this and take out assad, we don't care who it is. uh-oh. >> sorry. >> no, it's okay. >> that's okay, it was assad. i was in a very schizophrenic place last summer because on one hand i was so proud of the american people on both sides of the political spectrum standing up and saying we don't want another u.s.-led war in the middle east, we're tired of this, look at the legacy we've left, we can't do it again. on the other hand, watching my friends and their relatives die
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on a daily basis i thought who is going to stop assad? and is it worth it for another million, you know, for another 100,000 or 200,000 or 300,000 people to die? so i sympathize with people on this panel even though i'm anti-war. i'm specifically anti-u.s.-led war. i don't really see anywhere where the u.s. has left a good legacy there their, you know, occupations and attacks on other countries. what do you do when no one else will step in? and in some situations, maybe no other country can? >> [inaudible] >> we'll continue. we have one question from a student here. that's been waiting, if you want to ask your question. thanks for your patience with the noise. there we go. >> do i get a prize? [laughter] >> you know, i'm out of war stuff, and i owe the other guy one, but you'll get my cwa pen, okay? [inaudible conversations] >> well, you know, it depends upon how good this question is. let's go, sir.
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>> it's kind of vague, but -- >> priceless education. [laughter] >> that's what they tell me. anyways, do you think, like, group organizations such as nato and, like, the u.n. and stuff have more of a responsibility to limit collateral damage than say, like, america leads an army into syria opposed to nato leads an army? is there, like, any type of difference between how they handle civilian collateral damage than what a single country is supposed to be responsible for? >> good question. oh, you get the pin. [laughter] i can be really brief on this, no, there is no difference. when you pick up, when you pick up a weapon, you have certain responsibilities. when you pick up a weapon as part of a group, you have certain responsibilities. and when those groups become part of coalitions, you have the same responsibilities. this is the beauty of the laws of war even though i know that there are some problems with it as we discussed. >> others want to respond?
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okay. we'll go to the student question here. >> so i see collateral damage as a very civilian issue because it's impacting civilians. so how can we actually engage the people who are being affected in making these decisions? >> in terms of the public who are supporting wars or in terms of the people who are actually harmed? >> both. how can we actually engage populations in conversation to make it a more grassroots decision-making process rather than, like, a top-down decision making process that is affecting these civilians without their consent? >> one problem is you've got less than 1% of the u.s. population serving in the military. so there was a decision after the vietnam war which didn't actually come to pass, but that essentially you would put the combat support, combat service support which basically means
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all the stuff that gets the war fighters where they need to go and stuff, and they would put those in the reserves. okay, this means we'll never go to war again without the support of the population. it didn't quite work out that way. less than 25% of eligible-aged people can serve because we're too fat, too dumb, too drugged up, too whatever. and then that leads to less than 1% serving. so one thing that we can do, which i'm sure -- so bob can be out protesting, i'll be getting the people in including from the ivy leagues, is get people, get more of the population from a bigger cross-demographic to serve. so getting rid of don't ask, don't tell helped because for the first time rotc was allowed back on some of the ivy league campuses. it shouldn't just be the, you know, andst not, but it shouldn't just be kids from lower demographics that serve. it should be from across the swath of society. [applause] >> i mean, you know, part of the thing that bothers me, i guess, is that there was in the '60s a big protest movement which it
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had its effects, it had its tail yours as well. but i think that the abolition of the draft took a lot of the air out of the ability to create an anti-war movement in this country which i would be, you know, very supportive of. i remember a very concrete example of that when in 1991, i guess it was around january when the other bush was thinking about other war in iraq, and i went with some aclu and people and other people at a university in baltimore to talk about why this war was a bad idea, etc. we had, like, 250 people, students at the university, come to hear this presentation. that's because at that exact moment there was talk this congress and elsewhere about -- in congress and elsewhere about reinstituting the draft, because we had to send 500,000 troops over to the gulf, right? two, three weeks later that had
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been squashed by president bush, and we all went back to that same university for a follow-up seminar, and i think there were 30 people in the audience. now, i get it, you know? there's a self-preservation aspect to this thing. but because the draft was removed from the equation, people, you know, became less active. i'm unhappy that 1% of the country is in the military. i think it should be about a third of 1%. our military is way too big, way too bloated, way too expensive, has way too much weaponry for what we need to spend it on. so if you want to get involved, there's a lot of organizations that are working on, you know, reducing the size of the military all across the board in many different ways. >> i think we have time for one last question here. is there a student with a question there? yeah, we'll go to that. thank you for your patience, ma'am. sorry about that, but come on up
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and ask your question. this will be the last one. >> all right. i've got a question for bob. so you talk about things like surrendering or quitting your military job. what happens when everyone does that and then the enemy attacks? [laughter] [applause] >> well, i've got a good prize for you, son. you just come on up of afterwar. >> i'm not a pacifist, but there are very few times when that question will ever be raised and have to be answered. right now we have a military that's larger than all the rest of the world's budgets9' combi. we're the only power aside from russia which has anything like a nuclear arsenal which can back up that force. there's no conceivable enemy that can threaten the united states directly. i get al-qaeda and other people who can come and, you know, blow up a shopping mall or
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something, but there's no global power anywhere in the world, including china, that can threaten the united states. if we had a mel tear that's -- military that's dedicated to defending the united states as opposed to 800 whatever it is military bases all around the world, as opposed to a doctrine of american exceptionalism that says, you know, we need to bring our enlightened values to all these other beknighted countries that don't understand the values of democracy and everything else, if we didn't have a military that was so easy for a president to pick up the phone and order into action, there would simply be a lot less wars. i don't know what enemy you think is about to attack us. it isn't, you know, assad. it certainly wasn't saddam hussein who presented no threat to us. so, now, there are international ways of dealing with war. someone else brought up nato. nato is a an organization that long ago outlived its usefulness
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as we just learned in crimea. so why do we have a nato? now, does that mean we shouldn't have a united nations security council-supported actions? might that have worked in rwanda? might that have worked in other countries? i don't know, maybe. but i'm for that, and i'm not for more iraqs, i'm not for more afghanistans. there were plenty, plenty, plenty of ways for the united states to have dealt with afghanistan after 9/11 that didn't involve us going in there militarily. we could have spent the next four, five, six months negotiating with the taliban to hand us over osama bin laden. i've talked to a lot of senior diplomats who think that could have been accomplished if we gave it a little more time. does that mean the taliban, they're bad guys, i get it. but is it our job to go knocking off the taliban? no. so we could have solved that
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problem diplomatically if we'd given it some time. but what happened? we had a president who instead of trying to calm passions, instead of trying to tell people that in this great hour of national crisis we need to be mature, he got on his megaphone, and he called for war, right? so the revenge motive was inflamed rather than quashed at that exact moment. maybe there was no other way around it, but that's what happened. >> sorry to cut this short, but we are out of time today. so thank you, everyone, for joining us, and thank you to our panelists here. [applause] >> there's another panel after this. if you would exit through these doors, everybody else will be coming in through the other doors. >> earlier today, the epa announced new rules for cutting
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carbon pollution from power plants. the obama administration says it will give states two years to submit their own customized plans for cutting emissions. we'll show as much of the announcement by epa administrator gina mccarthy as we can : 12:30 to a discussion about american nationalism. [applause] [applause] >> all right, everybody. thank you, everybody. thank you. good to have you here. thank you.
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all right, everybody, this is great. thank you. wow. it is, it is great to be here, and thanks, everybody. where did bob go? bob, thank you for accompanying me in and for all your leadership you bring to this agency. i wanted to begin by telling you a little bit of a story. about a month ago, i took a trip to cleveland clinic, and i met a lot of really great people. bun person stood out -- but one person stood out. even if he needed to have, stand on a chair to make himself seen while he was talking. paca fray, he's 10 years old, and he's struggled with severe asthma his entire life. his mom said that despite his challenges, paca's a tough, active kid and a really good hockey player. but sometimes, she said, the air is too dangerous for him to play outside.
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you know, when the united states -- in the united states of america, no parent should ever have to have that worry. thank you. that's why epa exists. that's our job, and we are directed by our laws, and it is reaffirmed by the courts that we are here to protect public health and the environment. and today climate change that's fueled by carbon pollution is supercharging risks not just to our health, but to our communities, to our economy and to our way of life. that's what epa is -- why epa is delivering on a vital piece of president obama's climate action plan. and i want to thank janet mccabe who is our acting assistant administrator at the office of air and radiation and all of the entire team and teams across epa who work so hard to
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deliver this proposal. they should be incredibly proud of their hard work. i know that i am incredibly proud of it. [applause] you guys are great. but today, today epa is proposing a clean power plan that will cut carbon pollution from our power sector by using clean energy sources and cutting energy waste. although we limit pollutants like mercury, arsenic, sulfur, currently there are no limits on carbon pollution from power plants, our nation's largest sources. for the sake of our families' health and for our kids' future, we have a moral obligation to act on climate. when we do, we'll turn risks of
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climate into business opportunity. we'll spur innovation and investment, and we'll build a world leading clean energy economy. the science is clear, the risks are clear, and the high cost of climate inaction keep piling up. rising temperatures bring more smog, more asthma, longer allergy seasons. the your kid doesn't use an inhaler, you should consider yourself a very lucky parent. because one in ten kids in the u.s. suffer from asthma. carbon pollution from power plants comes packaged with dangerous pollutants like particulate matter, nitrogen ox side and sulfur dioxide, and they put our children and our families at even more risk. climate inaction is costing us more money in more places more often. 2012 was the second most
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expensive year in u.s. history for natural disasters. even the largest sectors of our economy buckle under the pressures of a changing climate, and when they give way, so to businesses that support them and local economies that depend on them. as our seas rise, so do insurance premiums, property taxes and food prices. if we do nothing in our grandkids' lifetimes, temperatures could rise ten degrees and seas could rise by four feet. the s&p recently said climate change will continue to affect credit risk worldwide. this is not just about disappearing polar bears and melting icecaps, although i like polar bears and i know about melting icecaps. this is about protecting our health, and it is about
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protecting our homes. this is about protecting local economies, and it's about protecting jobs. the time to act is now. that's why president obama laid out a climate action plan to cut car upon pollution -- carbon pollution, to build a more resilient nation and to lead the world in the global fight against climate. today's proposed climate -- clean power plan is a critical step forward. before we put pen to paper, we asked for your advice. our plans were built on that advice from states, cities, businesses, utilities, ngo and thousands of people who provided us comment. i want to thank you for that comment. you will see that those comments made a difference. today is about kicking off what we see as our second phase of critical engagement. so shaped by public input, by
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present trends, by proven technologies as well as a healthy dose of common sense, our plan aims to cut energy waste and leverage cleaner energy sources by doing two things. first, by setting achievable, enforceable state goals to cut carbon pollution per megawatt hour of electricity generated. and second, it's raying out a -- laying out a national framework that gives states the flexibility to chart their own customized path on how they meet their goals. all told, in 2030 when the states meet their final goals, our proposal will result in 30% less carbon pollution from the power sector across the united states in comparison to 2005 levels. that is, that -- thank you. [applause]
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now, just to put that in perspective, that's as if we canceled out all the annual carbon pollution from two-thirds of the cars and trucks in america. this was the preferred path forward. and if you add up what we actually avoid before 2030 even comes, it's more than double the carbon pollution from every power plant in america in 2012. it's double what every power plant in america generated in terms of pollution in 2012. and as a bonus, in 2013 we'll cut pollution significantly that causes smog and soot by 25% or more than if we didn't have this [applause] now, that's a great added advantage. [applause]
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now, all of that means it's going to result in lower medical bills, fewer trips to the emergency room especially for those most vulnerable. those kids, especially those kids that have asthma. our elder hi and our infirmed -- elderly and our infirmed. this is also about environmental justice, because lower income families and in communities of color are hardest hit. now, let me get into the details of the proposal. this plan is all about flexibility. that's what makes it ambitious but also achievable. that's how we keep our energy affordable and reliable. the glue that holds this plan together and the key to making it work is that each state's goal is tailored to its own circumstances, and states have the flexibility to reach their goal in whatever way works pest for them. to craft state goals, we looked at where states are today, and
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we tolled and looked at where -- we followed and looked at where they are head aing. each state is different, so each goal and each path can be different. the goals spring from smart and sensible opportunities that states and businesses are taking advantage of right now from the plant to the plug. let me tell you about the kind of opportunities that i'm talking about. now, we know that coal and natural gas, they play a significant role today in a diverse energy mix. this plan does not change that. it recognizes that there are opportunities to modernize aging plants, to increase efficiency and to lower pollution. that's part of an all of the above strategy that paves a more certain path forward for conventional fuels in a carbon-constrained world. states also have the opportunity to shift their alliance to more efficient and less polluting plants.
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>> we'll leave this event here. you can see the remainder of it on our web site. go to going live now to the center for the national interest for a discussion on american nationalism with michael lind. he is the policy director for the new america foundation and contributing editor at the center for the national interest. he recently wrote a cover story arguing the case for a new approach to u.s. foreign policy. >> since i began as an assistant editor, and during his tenure he published -- or when i was there, he published an article on german uniby the case -- unification in 1990 if my memory serves me right. he went on to become the executive editor of the national interest under its then-editor, owen harry. and michael participated in many of the foreign policy controversies of the 1990s, went on to become an editor at "harper's," then a senior editor
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at "the new republic," a year at the "new yorker," then returned to washington at the new america foundation where he has in the past two decades written a number of books both on american domestic and foreign policy, and he is also quite a renaissance man having written a children's book and is a published poet. and i would say one of the host creative minds that i have known in washington. now, michael's piece today is called "the promise of american nationalism." and in it he proposes a sweeping revision of american foreign and domestic policy focusing on trade, immigration and our approach to the outside world. with that, i'd like to ask
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michael to speak for about 20-30 minutes and give us a pressy of his article on the foreign policy debate and domestic debate right now. >> well, thank you, jacob. as you mentioned, this is a return for me, in a sense, to the national interest where it was my privilege to serve as executive editor a quarter century ago under owen harries at a time when at the end of the cold war the national interest, more than any other publication, i think, was responsible for what even now in hindsight was one of the great debates of american foreign policy history, in the national interest there was a series of essays by people representing different potential strategies for the united states in the post-cold war world from patrick buchanan, a neoisolationist strategy, to samuel p. huntington arguing for hearn primacy and jeane kirkpatrick calling for the united states to become an
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ordinary country again. as it happens and unfortunately as i will argue, the essay that turned out to be mothers prescient -- most prescient at least in terms of outlining what would become the new consensus was by charles krauthammer and was published in "foreign affairs" in 191, "the unipolar moment," with krauthammer speaking for what was then a wing of the here yo conservatives. at the time, i considered myself a neoconservative, and there were a number of neoconservatives including kirkpatrick and moynihan who wanted a much more of a retrenchment in u.s. foreign policy. but krauthammer spoke for what has emerged as the dominant consensus in u.s. foreign policy. he argued that the united states at the end of the cold war was the sole superpower, that the u.s. had such enormous advantages compared to all other
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great powers in the world that it was ridiculous to act with excessive restraint which was underestimating our own strength. and he made an argument which is repeated to this day by defenders of american hegemony which is the only alternative to the u.s. being the sole superpower with universal domination of the world is chaos and anarchy. this became the con census in the united states -- consensus in the united states not just because charles krauthammer wrote an argue, but i would argue because a series of events shifted elite consensus towards this position. the first was the gulf war where what appeared to be a very easy, quick victory gave a lot of americans what i think in retrospect was an exaggerated sense of u.s. military power and being able to solve major problems around the world.
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that sense of u.s. triumphalism was then underlined in the course of the balkan wars in the clinton years which were also significant for bringing over hutch of the progressive political -- much of the progressive political community to what had been a kind of center-right or neoconservative foreign policy position. madeleine albright famously asking general colin powell why we have this military if we're not willing to use it in humanitarian interventions. and so by the end of the clinton years, you had what was clearly a new consensus uniting so-called neoliberal hawks, you know, humanitarian interventionists with the neoconservatives. and the realists, the neoisolationists were marginalized. so this was a new consensus, and it has endured until recently. now, the german philosopher hagel says the owl of mier in v.a. flies at dusk which is a fancy, classical way of saying
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that it is as a period is drawing to an end that you can see what the actual shape of it is. i may be mistaken, or but i think that the period of this particular consensus -- even if it's not in the near future, the end is in sight. and so looking back, we can describe this consensus of the hegemonic strategy or the strategy of u.s. he hegemony ast involved and became shared by the foreign policy elites of both parties in the late 1990s and in the 2000s. and i would argue that the hegemony strategy had two components. there was a pattern of power and a system of world order, the hardware and the software, you might say, hard power and soft power. the geopolitical military strategy that underpinned it was u.s. hegemony. now, what do i mean by that? the united states fought world war i, world war ii and the cold war with the objective of
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preventing the emergence of a european or a eurasian hegemon. that is, a single, hostile power or alliance of hostile powers which would control the three significant regions of the eurasian continent, europe, the middle east and east asia. the consensus, much to the surprise of many of us in the more realist camp, but the consensus in washington that emerged by the year 2000 was that the way to avert a hostile european -- eurasian hegemon was for the united states to become the eurasian hegemon. ..


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